Denzel Washington’s 2003 blockbuster movie Antwone Fisher features Marcus Garvey’s great book, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
The Oscar award winning Washington both directs and acts in the movie. As naval psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport working with sailor Antwone Fisher, Davenport (Washington) tells Fisher (Derek Luke) to read The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey as a way of building his self-esteem as a Black man.
The Philosophy and Opinions has long been recognized as one of the great inspirational works for Black people.
Marcus Garvey’s book “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” is available as a free download. You can download it at:
The scene where Dr. Davenport gives Antwone a copy of The Majority Press’s edition of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey is pivotal. It is the scene where Antwone has his final burst of anger. It is his anger which puts him in a state where he admits or recognizes the source of his anger: friend Jesse’s death. Watching Jesse being shot led to Antwone joining the Navy. That revelation apparently gives him a sense of clarity and relief. He accepts the challenge of the hero’s journey and decides to set out to find his biological family. Dr. Davenport and Antwone admit their love for each other. That is a breakthrough for the both of them. They each can now move on with their lives and fully be who they were meant to be. Lastly, Antwone picks up the P&O that he flung in anger previously. That act further shows he has reconciled with the destiny he rejected earlier in the scene and realizes Dr. Davenport as a good friend instead of a surrogate father. His final act of brushing debris from the book indicates it is a memento of all that has transpired.
Like all good props, whether they be Dorothy’s ruby slippers or Luke’s lightsaber, Antwone’s possession of the Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey not only transforms Antwone Fisher, our perception of him transforms also. Antwone clutches the book like the precious possession it is. The gift is flung in anger when he believes he is being abandoned after Dr. Davenport announced their sessions will have to end. Antwone’s retrieval of the book at scene’s end indicates a reconciliation with Dr. Davenport and the beginning of a new relationship for the two of them.
The audience is changed as well. They see intelligent men who not only read the P&O but give it as gifts and value it as well.